Rodin sculpture sets $20 million artist’s record at auction

A Rodin sculpture set a new artist’s auction record at Sotheby’s on Monday when it sold for $20.4 million, but the strong price was likely to provide little reassurance to an art market that many fear is softening after years of spiking prices.

Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and modern art took in a total of $144.4 million, missing the low pre-sale estimate of about $165 million for 62 lots offered. One-third of the works went unsold.

Despite some high points that drew spirited bidding, the sale was marked by its relatively high unsold rate, and somewhat tepid prices for works that did find buyers.

Rodin’s marble sculpture, “L’Eternal Printemps,” soared far beyond its estimated price of $8 million to $12 million, and broke the Rodin auction record of just under $20 million.

Drawing intense, global competition, Sotheby’s pointed to the work as emblematic of the kind of fresh-to-market, quality works that auction houses must now offer to elicit strong prices and spirited bidding.

Executives employed words such as discerning, measured and selective to characterize both the night’s results and the present market itself.

“It’s emblematic of the marketplace we’re in right now,” said Helena Newman, European chairman of Impressionist and modern art, adding “It’s nuanced market.”

After years of soaring prices, both Sotheby’s and rival Christie’s have assembled markedly smaller spring sales, with no works carrying estimates much beyond $40 million. In recent seasons several works have broken the $100 million mark.

The sale’s expected highlight, Andre Derain’s “Les Voiles rouges” estimated at $15 million to $20 million, failed to sell. Picasso’s “Buste d’homme Laure,” expected to fetch $8 million to $12 million, suffered the same fate.

Among highlights, Maurice de Vlaminck’s “Sous-bois” fetched $16.4 million, in the midst of the estimate range, and Monet’s “Maree basse aux Petites-Dalles” sold for $9.9 million, nearly doubling the high estimate. Three Monets were among the 10 highest-priced lots.

Sotheby’s has suffered a spate of resignations by top-tier executives, many of whom had worked there for decades, as well as the departure of its long-serving CEO.

The auction stood in contrast to Christie’s curated sale on Sunday featuring challenging works by artists typically considered less-than commercial. It took in $78 million, handily beating the pre-sale estimate of about $60 million. But Christie’s curated sale last fall, notably, totaled $495 million.

The auctions continue on Tuesday with Christie’s post-war and contemporary art auction.

(REUTERS)

Eterna-primavera

Modigliani’s Nude reclines in a Taxi Driver’s Collection

Paying tens of millions of dollars for a painting or a sculpture is nothing new. For decades now, auction houses have been doing a remarkable job and one record after another came tumbling down. Among the ‘usual suspects’ were Picasso, Rothko, Bacon, and a whole bunch of Pop artists and Post Impressionists.

This week, a 1917 nude painting titled ‘Nu Couché’ by the sensational Modigliani was sold for $170.4 million at Chrtistie’s New York, becoming the second most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. Till here it would have been just another piece of news, but…

The painting was acquired by a Chinese billionaire called Liu Yiqian, and the fact that he had started his career as a taxi driver caused an uproar among several self-righteous experts and critics that rushed to label him as a culture vulture with a stock exchange mentality and no taste. Nevertheless, his story is –to my mind- way more interesting than the purchase itself. New York Times reported the story of Liu Yiqian, the taxi-driver that turned into a billionaire and an extraordinary art collector:

As a teenager growing up in Shanghai during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution, Mr. Liu sold handbags on the street and later worked as a taxi driver. After dropping out of middle school, he went on to ride the wave of China’s economic opening and reform, making a fortune through stock trading in real estate and pharmaceuticals in the 1980s and 1990s. According to the 2015 Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr. Liu is worth at least $1.5 billion.

“To me, art collecting is primarily a process of learning about art,” Mr. Liu said in an interview with The New York Times in 2013. “First you must be fond of the art. Then you can have an understanding of it.”

Mr. Liu, together with his wife, Wang Wei, is one of China’s most visible –—some say flashy — art collectors. Over the years, they have built a vast collection of both traditional and contemporary Chinese art, much of which is displayed in their two museums in Shanghai: the Long Museum Pudong, which opened in 2012; and the Long Museum West Bund, which opened last year. Ms. Wang, 52, is the director of both museums.

“I first came up with the idea that the Long Museum should collect international objects about two years ago,” said Ms. Wang, adding that her husband has been very supportive of her work.

The couple’s collection includes a 15th-century silk hanging, called a thangka, bought by Mr. Liu for $45 million at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong last year. The purchase made headlines when it set the record for a Chinese artwork sold at an international auction.

With that purchase, Mr. Liu broke a record he had set months earlier when he paid $36.3 million at a Sotheby’s sale for a tiny Ming dynasty porcelain cup known as a “chicken cup.” Soon after, he caused an uproar after a photograph that showed him sipping tea from the antique cup spread online.

For both record-setting acquisitions, Mr. Liu reportedly paid with an American Express credit card, earning him many millions of reward points.

The couple’s self-promotion tactics have prompted some in contemporary art circles in China to draw comparisons with the “taxi tycoon” Robert Scull and his wife Ethel, voracious collectors of what came to be known as “Pop Art” in the 1960s but derided by some in the art world as crass nouveaux riche.

Speaking about Mr. Liu and Ms. Wang, Philip Tinari, director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, said: “These are collectors that have so much money that they acquire taste or they don’t have to have to taste because they buy everything in sight.” He added: “There’s very little discrimination, they just buy the most expensive things. They’re not connoisseurs.”

Source: New York Times. Click here for the full article.

Modigliani_-_Nu_couché

Francis Bacon beats auction record: $142 million

“A painting by Francis Bacon of his friend and fellow artist Lucian Freud has become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction after it fetched $142m (£89m, 106m euros) in New York.
The triptych, Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969), is considered one of Bacon’s greatest masterpieces.
It was sold after six minutes of fierce bidding, Christie’s auction house said.

The price eclipsed the $119.9m (£74m) paid for Edvard Munch’s The Scream last year.
At the same auction, Jeff Koons broke the world record for a price paid for a single artwork by a living artist. His sculpture Balloon Dog (Orange) – one of a series of five stainless steel sculptures in varying colours – fetched $58,4m (£36.7m).

The previous record for a living artist was set by a Gerhard Richter painting depicting an Italian city square, which sold in May for $37.1 million (£23.3m).
It was the first time Three Studies of Lucian Freud had been offered at auction and bidding opened at $80m (£50m, 60m euros). Its presale estimate was $85m (£53m, 64m euros).
The auction house did not disclose the identity of the buyer.

Bacon, known for his triptychs, painted Three Studies of Lucian Freud in 1969 at London’s Royal College of Art, after his studio was destroyed in a fire.
Francis Outred, head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s Europe, said the work was “a true masterpiece and one of the greatest paintings to come up for auction in a current generation”.
“It marks Bacon and Freud’s relationship, paying tribute to the creative and emotional kinship between the two artists,” he added.

The pair met in 1945 and became close companions, painting each other on a number of occasions, before their relationship cooled during the 1970s.” – BBC News

100M ARTWORKS:
• Edvard Munch, The Scream – $119.9m (2012)
• Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust – $106.5m (2010)
• Alberto Giacometti, Walking Man I – $104.3m (2010)
• Picasso, Boy With a Pipe – $104.1m (2004)

_70396846_bacon-triptych

New Era in the Art Market: Art sold for $ 495 million

It seems that the term ‘global crisis’ is alien terminology to the international art markets. Check this piece of news from BBC:

A contemporary art sale at Christie’s in New York has made $495m (£325m), the highest total in auction history.

The sale included works by Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
The sale established 16 new world auction records, with nine works selling for more than $10m (£6.6m) and 23 for more than $5m (£3.2m).
Christie’s said the records reflected “a new era in the art market”.

The top lot of Wednesday’s sale was Pollock’s drip painting Number 19, 1948, which fetched $58.4m (£38.3m) – nearly twice its pre-sale estimate. Lichtenstein’s Woman with Flowered Hat sold for $56.1m (£36.8m), while another Basquiat work, Dustheads, went for $48.8 (£32.1m).

All three works set the highest prices ever fetched for the artists at auction.
Christie’s described the $495 million total – which included commissions – as “staggering”. Only four of the 70 lots on offer went unsold.

Brett Gorvy, head of post-war and contemporary art, described the amount as “the highest total in auction history”. “The remarkable bidding and record prices set reflect a new era in the art market,” he said.
Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s International, said new collectors were helping drive the boom. “Twenty-five percent of our buyers last year were new to Christie’s,” he told Reuters. “And four or five of the key lots tonight went to people who have never bought here before.”

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22552373

Dustheads by Jean-Michel Basquiat - $49m

Number 19 by Jackson Pollock - $58.4m

Woman with Flowered Hat by Lichtenstein - $56m

Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’: For Sale in New York

Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ is –by far- the most widely recognized icon of human anxiety in the realm of art. The silent scream seems to transcend the frame of the painting and reach out for other souls…or other buyers!

Three versions of The Scream (all by Munch) are owned by Norwegian museums, and the fourth (also his), a work in pastel, will finally be sold at auction in NY according to Sotheby’s officials, who also predict a price well above $ 80 million. This version is very special because it has a poem that Munch inscribed on the frame: He wrote of feeling ‘deathly tired’ and while letting his friends walk on, he ‘remained behind/ shivering with Anxiety — and felt the great Scream in Nature.’

The seller is a Norwegian businessman whose father was a patron of Munch and who justifies the sale on philanthropist grounds, stressing that he wanted to ‘offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work, which is the only version of The Scream not in the collection of a Norwegian museum.’

At $ 80 million, it makes you wonder.